HMRRC Winter Series # 1- 15K and The End of 2014

It’s that time of year again, time for the Winter Series races! These are some of my favorite local races because they are 1) free for members, 2) have varying distances to run during the winter, complete with water stops and refreshments, and 3) a majority of my favorite runners do them with me.

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Christine and I got to SUNY early to do a warm up campus loop of three miles. We averaged around 10:30 pace for the three miles while we chatted away. After warming up, we went into register and hung out inside for a bit before the race began at 10AM.

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Thankfully it was warmer out than it has been lately, although it was cloudy and then started to mist during the last few miles of the race. I had zero plans for this race other than just to get the miles in for the day. I started out running with Meredith, and eventually she took off while I ran with some other running friends who I met at Trail Running Camp over the summer. We kept a steady pace around a 10 minute mile for the whole 15K, and I was very happy with that. I felt great during the race and our conversations over the 9.3 miles made the time go by fast!

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I’ve been aiming for 20 mile weeks lately, just to get myself a strong base for some upcoming marathon training. I’m about 90% sure I’m signing up for a Spring marathon–stay tuned for more details. :-D

I did a lot of races in 2014, including seven half marathons (I think that’s the most I’ve ran in one year), and one full marathon. There have been a lot of significant changes in my life this past year, but the one thing that remained consistent is my running. Running makes me feel so fulfilled and happy with life, especially because I’ve made some really great friends through the sport and I’m glad I have them.

So let’s recap this past year shall we?

Favorite Race of 2014After the Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon, Lake Minnewaska State Park (Also my slowest half marathon of the year, but who cares? – the views were amazing)

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Hardest race of the 2014 – the Marine Corps Marathon, also wins for the largest race I’ve ever run

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The race with the most swag – The Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon, 10K and 5K (Hat Trick)

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The fastest and most flat half marathon of 2014Asbury Park Half Marathon

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The hottest race of 2014 - Saratoga Springs Half Marathon – humid, humid, humid!

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Race with the most frogs on the courseDippikill Froggy Five, a 5 mile trail race around Dippikill in the Adirondacks, with frogs around every corner.

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Race with the most team spirit - Ragnar Relay ADK

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Here’s to an even more exciting 2015!

Hot Chocolate Run 5K

This past Sunday I ran the Hot Chocolate Run 5K in Northampton, Mass! I first heard about this race through my friend Meredith–she said a few of her running friends were running it, so I decided to run also. It was a nice excuse to dress up for Christmas and run a race for a good cause. And even better–there is hot cocoa with  marshmallows at the end of the race! The proceeds from the race go to Safe Passage–an organization that addresses domestic violence.

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The race started at 10AM, which gave us plenty of time to get there from Albany in the morning.

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And it was VERY cold out.

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The race was a nice little jaunt through town. To my surprise there were a few hills!

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Before I knew it, the race was nearly over and we were running downhill to the finish line, where hot chocolate awaited us.

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Instead of a medal, we got a mug!

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Yum.

Race stats

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After the race, we had brunch at Sylvester’s, a local bakery and restaurant. Then Meredith, John and I went to the Northampton Brewery for a beverage.

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I chose the milk and cookies stout–one of the best beers I’ve had in a while–now a favorite.

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It was a fun day in Northampton!

Old Factory Candles Review

Old Factory Candles sent me some candles to review a few months ago, and I’m just finally getting to this post now. I chose the Winter Wonderland set of three different 2oz candles. In this set the scents are hot cocoa, roasted chestnut and first snow.

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All of them smell divine, too! I waited until December to break out these candles because I like to be festive.

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Things I really like about Old Factory candles:

  • they are made in the USA.
  • the candles are made of natural soy wax and have self-trimming cotton candle wicks.
  • the rustic design of the label–definitely my style
  • they smell delicious! over the weekend I lit the hot cocoa candle and it smelled like I was baking brownies or something. It smelled yummy.
  • I lit the small 2oz candle in my huge living room and the aroma filled the entire room.
  • there are a variety of scents to choose from.

Every purchase is 100% Guaranteed. Old Factory says that if you are not completely satisfied with the fragrance or appearance of these candles, they insist you send them back (at their expense) and they will provide you a full refund, which is great!

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Old Factory Candles are available on Amazon for $25 for a set of three and come in a variety of different scents.

Disclaimer: OFC sent me a set of candles free of charge to review, all opinions are my own.

Firetower Challenge – Goodnow Mountain

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It’s no surprise that I’m always up for a challenge. So, why not add another one to my current list? In addition to hiking the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, the Catskill 35 over 3500, there is the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge, which is a list of all the mountains that currently have a firetower at the top. Since I have already hiked two of these mountains, Hadley Mountain and Hurricane Mountain, I decided to go for another.  I hiked Goodnow Mountain on Sunday with a few good friends.

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About a two hour drive from Albany, the trail to Goodnow is right down the road from the Adirondack Visitor Center on Route 28N. There was a giant white sign for the parking lot, which made it easy to spot!

There was a dusting of snow on the trail already, which I really enjoyed! I don’t know how but I’ve completely changed my mind the past year about winter weather. I love it. The hike was pleasant. It wasn’t too steep, and there were many things to look at, including an old barn and an interesting tree with roots growing around a boulder.

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An easy 1.9 mile climb to the top, we found the firetower and cabin! Of course to get the 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains we climbed to the top.

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November is an peaceful time to hike. The trails are quiet (we saw no one else on the hike–but the trail register showed a group had already come and gone that morning) and you can smell winter in the air.

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Goodnow Mountain Firetower
~4 mi RT
1,040′ Ascent
2,690′ Elevation
Total time including stops: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Copra Raw Coconut Water Review

Copra Coconut Water recently reached out to me to try some of their coconut water! By now, most of us are familiar with this beverage. Coconut water has been increasing in popularity these past few years, but Copra is trying to stand out from the crowd–it’s raw and all natural! This is new to me because I don’t normally buy the drink, so I wasn’t aware there was a raw version of it. What’s the difference between raw and regular coconut water, you may ask?

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The main difference is that Copra raw coconut water:

  • Is not heated or pasteurized. Normally pasteurization is used to kill/prevent bacteria growth and increase shelf-life of foods–they also claim that this destroys important vitamins and minerals in the drink.
  • Is pink in color due to antioxidant levels.
  • Uses High Pressure Processing to kill microorganisms and keep micro-nutrients intact, instead of pasteurization.
  • Coconut water comes directly from raw coconuts in Thailand.

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Nutritional Stats:

One bottle of Copra is 80 calories. The coconut water is high in potassium and  has no fat, so its definitely a better choice than sodas or fruit juices that are sweetened with sugar and contain empty calories.

One of the biggest claims of coconut water in general is that it’s “nature’s sport’s drink”–because it provides electrolytes. Copra boasts five – potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all in low levels except potassium as you can see from the nutrition label above. I’ll admit that when I first tried coconut water, one of the reasons was because of the electrolytes. But, now that I’m learning the science behind food (and that I need to research everything to back up health claims) I’ve found that some coconut water health claims seem to be a myth. Coconut water is highest in potassium and low in sodium. After intense exercise, we lose salt in our sweat (this is why after long bouts of exercise you may find a coating of grit on your skin–its salt!) so, your best bet would be to rehydrate with plain water (especially if your goal is to lose weight!), and if you sweat a lot, electrolyte or salt tablets (like Nuun) or a drink that contains sodium, like veggie juice.

All that aside, it doesn’t mean that drinking coconut water is bad! I enjoy like the taste of it, and I find it adds a tropical flavor to my favorite smoothies. I really enjoyed the smoothie I made with a bottle of Copra. I don’t use it for re-hydrating after exercise, but I do like to drink it as a treat on occasion. If I see some on sale at the store I will grab some for my smoothies, but at regular price it is just not in my budget. I found that Copra had a slightly different taste than some of the varieties that I’ve tried, which is most likely due to the fact that it is raw.

Tropical Protein Smoothie

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Ingredients

1 bottle of coconut water
1 cup of frozen mango chunks
3/4 cup of frozen cherries, blackberries and blueberries
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt (or 1 scoop of protein powder)

And blend away! It makes one refreshing, tropical smoothie!

Would I recommend Copra? My answer to someone looking to lose weight: no– stick with water and don’t drink your calories. To someone looking for a natural sports drink: no–there are better options out there for re-hydrating. But, if you can spare the extra expense (its $3.99 a bottle at most stores) and if you are looking to add flavor to smoothies and treat yourself to a tropical, all natural, tasty drink? Sure!

Now, the fun part. Copra is offering to give a lucky reader a week’s worth of raw coconut water to try! Enter here by leaving a comment on this post answering this question: how do you prefer to drink your coconut water?

Giveaway ends on Monday 11/24.

Disclaimer: Copra sent me some of their coconut water to try, free of charge. All opinions are my own.